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Monday, August 10, 2020

Dalits fighting for panchayat land share protest again, 125 arrested

Villagers have been protesting for the past 71 days, demanding their rights to do group farming on village panchayat land reserved for Dalits. They have been sitting on dharna in vacant agriculture fields since May 20.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Published: July 30, 2020 10:27:52 am
Sangrur, Sangrur Protest, Women Protest, Punjab Protest The arrested villagers were later released in the evening. (Representational)

Over 125 Dalits of Ghrachon village were arrested after they tried to hold another protest rally in the grain market of Sangrur district Wednesday.

Last Friday, several hundreds had gathered to protest, claiming that dummy candidates were being fielded to get annual lease of panchayat land reserved for Dalits for cultivation. While no arrests were made that day though an FIR was registered, on Wednesday, over 125 were arrested and released late in the evening.

Gurmukh Singh, union leader of Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee (ZPSC), said, ‘’First they released women and later men, but Gurcharan Ghrachon, leader of the village ZPSC branch, is untraceable. He was part of the protest. However, his number is switched off and police say that they are not aware about him.”

Villagers have been protesting for the past 71 days, demanding their rights to do group farming on village panchayat land reserved for Dalits. They have been sitting on dharna in vacant agriculture fields since May 20.

Mukesh Malaud, president of ZPSC, said, “A total of 48 acres is the share of Dalits, out of which for 18 acres, many Dalit families have already paid Rs 20,000 per acre. The remaining 30 acres is with dummy candidates backed by Congress leaders. However, they are not even allowing Dalits to do farming on that 18 acres, nor resolving the issue. Cattle have nothing to eat and hence today families had planned to take cattle till the residence of Cabinet Minister Vijayinder Singla, but they were arrested for violating Covid guidelines.”

He added, “The minister himself had held a meeting of his workers inside his residence a few days ago. A large number of workers had attended but no one was booked. Moreover, police loaded Dalits in tempos and took them to police station violating all social distancing norms.”

Meanwhile, the administration as well as police are not able to resolve the issue. Over 70 of them sleep in agriculture fields only. More than 178 families of Ghrachon want to do group farming on 48 acres but 30 acres of land was auctioned at Rs 55,000 per acre, which Dalits claim was taken by Congress leaders by fielding dummy candidates. DC Sangrur Ramvir has denied all these allegations, and has said that the issue was being resolved.

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